» Projecting a confident imaging service

27 February, 2017

With over 150 members of staff, treating approximately 600 patients a day, the Medical Imaging Department is one of the largest and busiest departments within the Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) NHS Foundation Trust.  In addition to being open for outpatient appointments 12hrs a day, 7 days a week, the department provides a 24/7 on site cover for urgent cases referred within the hospital, with CT, MRI, Interventional radiology and ultrasound on-call cover.  Patients are referred to the department from GP surgeries, hospital clinics, in-patient wards, Accident & Emergency as well as other hospitals across the UK.  In all, some 36 pieces of imaging equipment are used to assist with a broad spectrum of imaging examinations; from A&E, dental and fluoroscopic imaging to paediatric, ultrasound and shockwave therapy.

The RD&E Medical Imaging Department has recently maintained their 2nd year accreditation  by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to the Imaging Accreditation Scheme.  Jointly owned by the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) and College of Radiographers (CoR), the accreditation is a patient-focused assessment and accreditation programme.  It is designed to help diagnostic imaging services ensure that their patients consistently receive high quality services, delivered by competent staff working in safe environments.  As the UK’s national accreditation body, UKAS has been licenced by the RCR and CoR to manage and deliver accreditation of imaging services.

Being the UK’s only nationally-recognised accreditation scheme available for diagnostic imaging services, UKAS accreditation has been recognised by the Care Quality Commission and approved for use within the CQC hospital inspection methodology.  This has been of particular benefit to the Trust, as Chris Vanstone, Radiology Services Manager explains: “We recently had a routine visit by CQC inspectors and were able to answer a large number of their questions by showing them the evidence we had submitted using the web-based assessment tool.  This gave the inspectors confidence that the service is safe and helped significantly towards the overall rating of ‘good’ that we received.”

Outlining the reason behind why the department began the accreditation process Marie Morgan, The Quality and Accreditation Coordinator said:  “From patient and staff feedback we knew we already offered a high quality, safe service.  However, going through the accreditation process ensures that all staff work to a high standard and the relevant governance is up to date.  Accreditation shows both our patients, carers, visitors and outside organisations that we provide a quality service that has been independently assessed and accredited by UKAS.”

Whilst the positive effect on patients is the key concern of the accreditation programme, those going through the accreditation process also benefit, as Chris Vanstone goes on to explain.  “We found it very beneficial for the department, as at the start of the accreditation process we needed to create a robust system for ensuring safe practice.  We are now able to demonstrate this through our document management control system where we store all our departmental SOP’s (standard operating procedures) and audits, which are reviewed and updated accordingly.  We also now carry out regular audits which ensure processes are safe and we are able to monitor and improve if necessary.”

Accreditation has enhanced the reputation of the department being able to demonstrate the high quality service the Medical Imaging teams deliver. Summing up the departments accreditation experience, Marie Morgan concluded: “Accreditation provides reassurance to both the referrer and the patient that we are providing a high quality service.  As a department we are incredibly proud to have achieved UKAS accreditation and intend to continue to work hard to maintain this.”


The Medical Imaging Team at The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS FT